Niccolò Marcello Venuti.

A description of the first discoveries of the antient city of Heraclea, found near Portici, a country palace belonging to the king of the Two Sicilies. In two parts.. online

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Online LibraryNiccolò Marcello VenutiA description of the first discoveries of the antient city of Heraclea, found near Portici, a country palace belonging to the king of the Two Sicilies. In two parts.. → online text (page 7 of 11)
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it beyond all Doubt that, there, was the antient
City of Hercolanum. Afterwards they found
three beautiful Marble Buds, one of which I per-
ceived to be the Emgy of Domitia, whofe Infcrip-
tion I have before let down : The other, being of
the fame Size, with the Countenance and Features
of a Man advanced in Years; I imagine to be
Gneus, the Father of the faid Emprels.

I afterwards examined the Brazen Horfe, by me
above defcribed, and perceived that it had been
faftend to a triumphal Car of the fame Metal, and
had his Harnefs and Trappings, ornamented with
fmall BafTo Rilievos. Then they dug up feveral
Fragments of Brafs, and three other Marble gown-
ed Statues ; which, the' they were very curious
throughout, yet their Heads and Arms were made
of a finer Sort of Marble. I imagine, they ufed
to have in Readinefs, gowned Statues without
Heads, that when they had Occafion for the Statue
of any dcferving Perfon, they had no further
Trouble, than to make the Head and put it on ».
They often made Things fo for Beauty, and fome-
times for w^ant of Marble. I have feen an old
Thigh, which was made of three different Sorts of
Marble. Moft of their Statues have at their Feet,
a round Block, which many think to be a fmall
Altar, to denote the Reverence due to llich Ferlbns.
Others fuppofe it to be a Box to put the Supplica-
tions in, which are offered up to them, by the Po-

They found a fine Baffo Riiievo, whereon was
wrought feveral Barbarians running away \ which
I judged to be the Defeat of the Hebrews, by the
Emperor *, of which there was feen before, a grand
Infcription. Among thefe Fragments, they found

* Notifi, die \o ftelTo accadeva ne farcofagi, ed urne feli* tro-
vandokiie snolte cciia cartelia ienz-^ ircri^ione,


Antient City of HER ACL E A. 77

a fmall Statue about half a Yard high, reprefent-
ing a naked Venus, which appeared like Venus
de Medicis, leaning on a bearded Priapus.

After which they difcovered three fine fluted
Columns, made of a Kind of Compofition, in a
curious Manner, but broken ; and among the Inter-
columns were two large Tables of white Marble,
containing the Names of above four hundred Free-
men. The Title is wanting. After having heard
various incredible Reports concerning thefe Things,
I obtained the Sight of them, thro' the unfpeaka-
able Clemency of the Qiieen's Majefty, whofe
Fraifes I cannot find Words fufliciently to exprefs.

I perceived that they related to the two Tribes
of this Place, viz. VENERIA and CONCORDIA;
and a little lower, I obferved in fomewhat larger
Charaders, the word ADLEGERVNT ; under
which were the Names of feveral renowned Per-
fons, with a DiftiniSlion of the different Tiibes of
the Romans ; but I fliall referve this to foeak of in
another Place.


yf« Account of other Antiquities.

IN other Accounts which I have feen, I find
Mention made of more Statues and Bulls, which
were either found after my Departure from thence,
or may only be other Names given to thofe which
were found before; but be that as it wiil, I will
not beguile the Reader, of a Catalogue of them ac
lead ; which is all follows.

The Statues of Nero, Germanicus, Claudius, and
two Women unknown : A Marble Statue of Vefpa-
fian, and an Atalanta, in which is obferved the


yS ^Description of the

Grecian Method. Two other Images, fitting in a
State-chair, well preferved. Several fmali Statues
of Bronze, fome of which appear to have been the
Houfehold Gods, or Lares of the Heracleans. An
Image, fuppofed to be Mercury -, holding in his
right Hand a full Purfe, and in his hh a Tortoife
on a Difh ; which pofTibly is only an Allegory, to
fhew that this God was the Inventor of Mufick, as
is very learnedly laid down by P. Paciaudi a Thea-
tine, in a Differtation, which he dedicated to the
Marquis dell Hofpital^ French EmbaiTador at Na-
ples, to whom his Majefty had prelcnted that Sta^
tue. They found alfo [feveral Marble Bufls ; the
moft remarkable among which, were thofe of Ju-
piter Ammon, Juno, Pallas, Ceres, Neptune, Mer-
cury, Janus Bifrons, a little Infant, and a Youth
with a Drop of Gold of an oval Form, hanging
from his Neck unto his Bread. The few BafTi
Relievi which are found, are fo trifling that they
are not worth fpeaking of, there being only one of
any Value, which is the Reprefentation of a Sacri-
fice. This is what I have feen handed about for an
Account of the Things found in Heraclea, after"
my Departure thence ; the Truth of which, I
leave the Reader to judge, and fhall proceed to
make Obfeivations on what I faw with my own

C H A P. VI.

Ohfervations on the ahovemen'/ioc-d Infer htions.

HAVING taken notice of the Time when the
Foundations of the Theatre were laid, and
having found fo many curious Ornaments therein ;
it feems impoflible that they fhould have been all
put there at the Beginning. And as there have


Antlenf City c/ H E R A C L E A; jg

been difcovered, Fragments of Things of later
Date, efpecially the grand Infcription of the Em-
peror Titus, and that of Domitia, and other Im-
perial Statues, as of Nero, and Claudius, ^c. it
neceffarily occurs to think, that from the Time of ■
its Building to its Overthrow, there were continu-
ally new Ornaments adding to it : So that, if the
City Keraclea was dellroyed, together with its
Theatre, in the Reign of tlie fame Titus, and yet
there remains that Infcription ; one fhould imagine
it was repaired, or at leafthad fome new Embellifh-
ments in that very Year, or a little before the total
Deilrucftion -, not doubting that the Infcription be-
longed to the triumphal Chariot, fuppofed to have
been put up over one of the two great Doors.

It is moft certain from the Authority of Seneca '*-,
that the total Demolition of the City, by an Erup-
tion of Vefuvius, was preceded by an Earthquake
during the Confullliip of Regulus and Virginius ;
which threw down great Part thereof, and, as fome
will have it, the Theatre, together with the Peo-
ple in it, was fwallowed up about the Year of
Chrift 63.

Eufcbius, Zonara and Agricola, ttW us, that
the Eruption of Vefuvius was in iht firfl Year of
the Reign of Titus ; but Cedrenus and Baronius
fay, it v/as in the third. Suetonius relates, that
Titus on this Occafion, fhewed not only the Ten-
dernefs of a Father by the Succours he gave them ;
but alfo the Circumfpedlnefs of a wife Emperor, by
the Meafures he took, having appointed the Goods
of thofe who died without Heirs, to go towards
the rebuilding the City.

Dionyfius and Zonara add, that when this ter-
rible Eruption happened, Titus fent feveral Pre-
fents into Campania, and went himfelf tofee what
Damages the People had fuilained.

« Senec. Nat. Quell. 1. 6. c. i.


So ^ DeSCHJVT ION of fh

He gave the Neapolitans magnificent Sports,
and caufed their Gymnafium to be rebuilt at his
own Expence : Which is proved by an antient
Gr^k Infcriprion, mentioned by Gruterus and
Muratori : How is it polTible that Titus fhould
make fuch Jarge Reparations, if the Eruption,
which was the Occafion of it, had happened in the
Jafl Year of his Reign ? Could he pofTibly have had
Time to think of it ? For at that rate there were but
eighteen Days from the Eruption, which began
NON. KAL. SEPTEMBRIS % to the Death of
the Emperor, which happened the thirteenth of
September. However, all doubt is cleared up by
George Agricola ^, who fixes the Time of the E-
ruption in the eighth Year of the Confullhip of
Titus, which was about the firflYear of his Reign:
Eufebius and Zonara are of Opinion, that Titus
might have Time in the Year following, to take'
all necefiary Meafures for repairing the Damages
in Campania, as Suetonius and Dion alfo fay. By
the Neapolitan Infcription, it may be feen, that
Titus repaired the Gymnafium in the fecond Year
of his Reign. Whence, it is beyond all Doubt,
that the Eruption happened on the 24th of Augufl,
A. D. 79, in the firft Year of his Reign ; and ad-
mitting that the Siege of Troy was fixty Years
after the Building of Heraclea, according to the
Alexandrian Chronicle, it follows, that this City
-was 1420 Years old.

If on this Stone, the Year of the Confullhip of
Titus had remained entire, we fhould have been
at a Certainty about it : But I perfuade myfelf that
my Opinion is right, fcil. that after the Earth-
quake, Titus rebuilt and embellifhed our Theatre;
as hf alfo did feveral publick Strudures which had
been dcftroyed by Earthquakes, in diverfe Parts of

a Plin. lib. 6. Epil^. 1 6, ^ Geor. Agricol de natur. eorum,
qir«e eiHuunt in naiura Jib. 5,

4 the

AntientCity sfHERACLEA. 8i

the World, and fo much the more in a Place fo
near Rome, he might have ordered the Repairing
thereof, and the chief Senators who had Country
Seats about thofe Parts, might have contributed ;
one of which might be the Nonius Balbus, of
whom we fhall fpeak hereafter.

In fine, the Theatre, as Xiphilinus reports, perifhed
with the People in it, but we have found neither
their Corpfes nor Skeletons, therefore it mufl have
been thrown down firft by the Earthquake, and
their Bodies taken away, and the Theatre after-
wards rebuilt in the Time of Titus, to whofe Me-
mory, was put up the above mentioned Infcription
on a gilt ColofTus, which was then the T3.fl:e of the
Time ; for the gilt Equeflrian ColofTus of Domi-
tian * ftood in the Midfl of the Roman Forum,
which was afterwards abolilhed by the Senate :
Likewife the Statues of the Forum of Trajan, de-
fcribed by Gellius.

This I take to be the Occafion of thofe two large
Marble Tables, containing fo many Names of the
Liberti or Freedmen : It fignified nothing rebuild-
ing the City and the Theatre, if the Lofs of Citi-
zens was not made up : Thence it comes that you
fee on the above Tables, the Names of fo many
Liberti adfcripti of the two Tribes VENERIA, and
CONCORDIA, and the Names of the furviving
Decuriones who pafTed the folemn Decree, AD-
LEGERVNT. Certain it is, that feveral Colo-
nies being made defolate by this Calamity, fought
for new Inhabitants, which being fent them, were
called Adle^i and Adjun5fi, Livy " gives it us thus:
Pojlulantibus Aquilej enfimn Legatis^ ut numerum Co-
lonorum Senatus augeret^ mille ^ingentce farnilia ex
S. C. fcriptce^ 'Trium'virique, qui eas deducerent mijji
funt jT. Anniiis Lufcus^ P. Decius Suhulo^ M, Come-

» Stazio. Nardin. Rom. Antic. Reg, 8, del Foro R.cmano.
* Lib. 34. c. 17,

M Uus

82 A Description of the

lilts Cethegus. But as I neither have Time, nor is
it convenient for me to re-copy this Infcription, I
hope that thofe, who at prefent have the Superin-
tendency there, will obtain Leave from hisMajefty
to participate it to the Learned, that are defirous
of it.

As to the other brafs Statues, whether of Men;
or Women (which by ignorant Interpreters have
been thought to be Veftals, not to mention the
many other Abfurdities which have been publifli-
ed) : They reprefent the Gods Confenti^ which, ac-
cording to Panvinius's Opinion, were put up in
the Place where the Shews were prefented. Don
Matteo Egizio, who was then at Paris, wrote to
me to defire I would feek for the Statue of the fa-
mous Veftal Claudia ,1 made a diligent Search, fup-
pofing, that, as we had found Memorials of Clau-
dius, and of Nero, there might alio be a Statue of
her, out of Refpedl to the Family •, but I could not
find the lead Sign of any fuch Thing having been.
Therefore I conclude thefe brafs Statues, to be the
Dei Confenti, or Houfehold Gods: Hos (Penates)
Confentes, ^ Complices Etrufci aiunty i£ nominani
quod una oriantur^ (if una occidant^ fex mares^ Cff to-
tidem fceminas nominibus tgnotis^ ^ miferalionis par-
cijfim^^ fed eos fummi Jovis confiUarios^ ac principes
exiftimari \ Monf. Redi thinks that the Dei A(^t'
renti Calatini, were the Dei Confenti (fo called by
Antonomafia,) whofe Statues were put up in the
public k Forum in Rome, in Athens, and in al-
molt all the Grecian and Latin Cities that were of
any Repute ^, and were called,

= Girald, Syntagm. 15. pag. 422. ^ Accad. di Cortona t.
2. fopra Dei Aderent. Vid. M. Arnaud. fopra i Dei Parediscap.
20. Struvio lib. i. Rycq. de Capitol, cap. 39, Voflio lib, 1. 14*
SalniafiO, ^V.


Antient City ^/^ HER ACLEA. 83

The Twelve

The Great

The Confiliary ^Gods.

The Genial

Proceeding to confider the other Statues and
Infcriptions found in the Theatre, I recolleft, that
befides thofe of the Emperors ; (in Honour of
whom 'tis no wonder that there fhould be Statues
put up :) There is particular Mention made of the
two private Famihes, viz. the Annian, and the

One of the Annian Family, i. e. Lucius Annius
Mammianus Rufus, built the Theatre, at his own
Expence, as we mentioned in the 4th Chapter. I
fhall only add> that poillbly, one of the gowned
Statues that were found might belong to him. \t
is obfervable that the Annian Family, tho' but a
private one, was as much preferred to Honours as
the hundred Families that were chofen out by Ro-
mulus, for Patricians *. It produced Confuls, and
High Prieds, and at laft arrived at the Empire, in
the Perfons of M. Aurclius Verus, Lucius Verus,
Lucius Elius Cefar, Pefcennius, Tacitus, and Flo-
rianus ; but Petavius fays, that about the Time we
are treating of, which is the Year after the De-
flru. Idibus Septembris^ hiennio^ ^ menfihus duobus
Csf diebus viginti foftquam in Lnperio patri fuccefferat.
In which Year the Eruption happened, which was
the firft Year of the Reign of Titus. Neither is in
probable, that the Heracleans fhould ere6l a Statue
and Infcription to Domitia, unlefs at the Time
when Domitian, together with his Brother Titus,
Were Confuls •, and on Account, that fhe was big
with Child of an Heir Apparent to the Family of
the Flavii ^

Thus much will fuffice, with refpedt to the
Theatre of Heraclea \ I fhall only fay, that the cu-
rious and antique Columns which were found there,
(part of which are to be feen at the King's Villa
at Portici, and part of them v/ere carried to the
Cathedral at Naples) belonged to the Porch behind
the Stage ^ : Poft fcenam (fays Vitruvius) porticus
funt €07ifiituend.^^ uti cum imbres 7'epentini hidos inter-
pellaverint^ habeat populus quo fe redpiat ex Theatre^
Cboragiaque laxamentum haheant ad cborum parandum *.
Now 1 fhall return to the Defcription of the remain-
ing Curiofities that were found in my Time.

3 Tacit. Annal. 1. 3. Sueton. in Domitian. c. i. & 3. Xiphi-
Imo 66. p. 746. ^ Ridolfino Venuti mio fratello ne'Meuag^

Iloni Vatican], ^ Vid. Eutrop. in Vita Titi. '^ Vitruv.

Hb. 5. cap, 9. e Gallutiusde Tragcedia cap, 7.


go '^Description of the


Of the temples and Paintings found near the Theatre
of Heraclea.

IT Is a Thing not doubted among the Learned,
that the Antients had Temples near the Thea-
tres, efpecially thofe that were raifed to Hercules,
or Bacchus -, and it is alfo certain that in the very-
Theatres themfelves, they had Altars and little
Temples. The Sacrifices preceded the Games,
and the Games had a Correfpondence with the fce-
nical Reprefentations, efpecially in the Country of
the Ofci, where the Ofcian Games, and the Fa-
bulse Atellana^ were invented, and whofe Language
always remained on the Roman Stage *. Cicero
mentions thefe Fabul^ Atellanas to have been ufcd
by Pompey, at the Dedication of his Theatre.
The abovefaid little Statues of Venus, Auguflus,
and Livia, intimate the Truth of the Exiflence of

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Online LibraryNiccolò Marcello VenutiA description of the first discoveries of the antient city of Heraclea, found near Portici, a country palace belonging to the king of the Two Sicilies. In two parts.. → online text (page 7 of 11)